Jared Dubin of ESPN today published a Q&A with Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadivé. In it, Vivek speaks on a variety of subjects, including his thoughts on fixing tanking, which he calls "The V Plan".
The V Plan, in Vivek's words:
There's two parts to it. Part I is that you freeze the draft order at the time of the All-Star break. Then, everything [pertaining to the current lottery system] remains the same, but it's frozen based on the standings at the All-Star break. Then there's no gain in not playing at the highest level for the remainder of the season. That's Part I.
Part II is that at the end of the season, the top seven teams from the Eastern Conference and the top seven teams from the Western Conference make the playoffs. Then for the eighth playoff spot, the remaining eight teams have a sudden-death, college-style playoff in a neutral venue, like Vegas in the West and Kansas or Louisville in the East. (Note: This idea is similar to Bill Simmons' "Entertaining as Hell Tournament," first floated here and was discussed by Silver in his chat with Gladwell at the Sloan Conference.)
That would inject such excitement into the league. Teams would no longer be incentivized to lose. Their fans would have something to hope for, like a Cinderella team that got into the eighth spot. It would solve most of the issues that we're facing with the way the draft happens right now.
That's the first time I've heard anyone suggesting freezing the draft order at the All-Star break, but then again, innovation is one of the things that Vivek has promised to bring the NBA (or NBA 3.0 as he calls it). I kinda like the idea, because a lot of the most egregious cases of tanking happen in the back half of the season when the season is basically over. That's not to say there aren't some flaws with this idea, namely that some teams might opt to tank before the break in order to secure a higher draft pick, or that a good team that suffers a major injury to a player early (say the Heat and LeBron) who then comes back at end of season to lead team to playoffs gets a higher pick because of it.
I really like the idea of having a tourney style format for the 8th seed though, even when Simmons introduced it. It would add some excitement to fans of losing teams as the season winds down. Now once you've been eliminated from the playoffs, the season kind of becomes a slog. A tourney would inject some much needed energy into the end of the season, and introduce a small level of parity in that every team has a shot at making the playoffs, even if it's remote.
This is far from the only thing that Vivek spoke about. I'm not going to copy the whole interview, as you should head over to ESPN and read it yourself, but one part I found really interesting was when he was talking about looking for a GM:
For the GM, I went through a pretty exhaustive search. What I was looking for was, I said: Who is the smartest guy? Who's got the most passion? And who's the hungriest? That's how I hired people in my software company.
When I spoke to Pete, I told him, "I've got three other candidates that are finalists for this job, and it's highly unlikely that you'll get job. I will interview you, and most likely it will be for an assistant GM [position]. If you want to come out, come out, but the chances of you getting it are 1 percent." He came out, and the night before I gave him a call and said, "There are just five questions I have for you," and then he just absolutely blew me away. Blew me away. He was the kind of 21st century GM that I was looking for.
Make sure to check out the rest of the interview, as Vivek discusses his thoughts on analytics, "position-less basketball", DeMarcus Cousins and more.